Every day, someone somewhere prepares to open a school. In the United States, since the advent of charter schools, each year many schools open and close, for a variety of reasons. The process of opening a school is, in some fundamental ways, easier today than it has ever been.
But I wonder how one could open a great school and serve a population the most in need. Here at The Academy, we worked hard for a decade before becoming what many have described as a great school. I think about what we did throughout the process and offer this as a primer for those looking to do the same.
My advice would begin and end with the notion of community. Building a community is infinitely more challenging than building a school. Community takes infinite ingredients and nonstop attention. Community cares for people. It makes us feel as if we belong. Community, not a sugar-and-taurine-laden energy drink, gives us wings.
How to build community in a school is more art than science. It begins and ends with respect. By creating a safe place where people, their opinions, thoughts, and actions are valued, you’re on the right track. There needs to be balance, focus, constant and consistent improvement.
The construction of a great school is never, ever complete.
Don Adams, Head of School